Saturday, May 21, 2022

Anti-hopping law should apply only to MPs who leave their parties, says Muhyiddin

The Pagoh MP says an overly broad definition of party hopping could open the door to abuse by the government.

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Pagoh MP Muhyiddin Yassin today said that the anti-party hopping act to be passed in Parliament should only apply to MPs seeking to leave their parties of their own accord.

“The amendment to Article 10 of the Federal Constitution must be clear in its meaning, which is to restrict only MPs who are members of a political party from leaving the party in question,” he said when debating the second reading of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill at a special session of the Dewan Rakyat today.

“This amendment should not cover other matters,” he said, adding that an overly broad definition in the draft law could lead to misuse by the government to deny the rights of elected representatives.

“It could be considered as restricting the freedom of association of MPs and state assemblymen,” the Perikatan Nasional chairman said.

He also disagreed with the inclusion of MPs who are sacked from their parties under the definition of party hopping.

“There is no room for such MPs to challenge their parties’ decision in court because of the ouster clause in Section 18C of the Societies Act 1966,” he said.

“Appeals can only be made to the Supreme Councils which are controlled by the party leaders. Is this fair?”

Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar earlier said that a meeting between the prime minister and Pakatan Harapan (PH) today had determined that the amendment would be subject to it specifically addressing MPs who switch parties, the proposal to repeal Article 48(6) of the constitution, and the enactment of legislation related to the ban on MPs jumping ship.

This follows the government’s agreement yesterday to establish a special committee comprising representatives from the government, the opposition and academics to work on and draft the anti-party hopping bill.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad (Pejuang-Langkawi) meanwhile said that certain situations would require a jump, for example when no single party is able to obtain a simple majority at an election.

“This would not be a jumping event if the decision is made by the party and not the individual who is likely to be appointed as a minister,” he said.

“All of this needs to be studied by the special committee so that the right of Malaysians to association is not disturbed by the government.”

Anthony Loke (PH-Seremban) said the opposition had agreed to refer the draft law to the special committee to allow MPs who resign from their parties to contest again at elections.

“We feel that, in the spirit of the amendment this time, freedom needs to be returned to the people,” he said.

“Let MPs who have resigned contest again.”

MPs who resign from their parties are currently prohibited from contesting elections for a period of five years.

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